How to grow Corporates with Startups

Engaging with Startups falls under three main objectives for the Corporate Manager and most organizations focus exclusively on one of them. Addressing different aspects of existing business models, the level of easiness in achieving and the implied internal / external maturity level, the three objectives are:

Improving core business: The first objective is to utilize startup collaboration to improve the core business metrics and enhance existing business models i.e., cutting costs, boosting profit margins, and expanding market share. Startups are useful for these purposes since they usually take innovative approaches, work faster, and are more cost efficient and effective than more established providers or partners.
Technical or product innovation: Technological or product innovation is the second objective most familiar to many Corporates, particularly in high-tech and engineering-heavy manufacturing industries, where interaction can be as simple as sourcing a new component and its success measured upon it’s timely delivery.
Game changers: Industry game changing innovation objectives are focused solely on disruptive industry shifts, and are often accountable to the CEO and/ or the BoD, directly. These objectives are developed next to the existing core business and have an exploratory feel to them since they address the evolution of an organization’s business model or the repositioning of a whole industry or market.

It is becoming more commonplace in Corporates to try to build and manage a blended portfolio across all three objectives, by using different resources, tools and levers both inside the organization and with the external startup ecosystem. To name just a few:

• Dedicated staff i.e. startup scouts
• Acceleration and/or incubation programmes
• Dedicated office and/ or technology lab space
• External venture fund i.e. CVC’s
• Marketing / outreach programs

However, doing so requires an associated mix of team skills, scaling levers, and types of relationships inside and outside the organization. Most Corporates are still in the Boston Bruins jersey wholesales early stages of building the processes, functions and recruiting the people required to manage a portfolio of engagements both internally and externally, with that level of sophistication and complexity.

A growing number of Corporates from diverse industries have built in the last three years an array of dedicated programs (stand-alone or in partnership) to proactively create, and then manage, relationships with startups. These programmes serve two key purposes:

• Initially Mike Williams jersey authentic these programmes play the role of startup scout, by sourcing promising startups that align with the company’s strategic innovation interests, across the three objectives.
• Further down the road, these programs act as a matchmaker, facilitating initial interactions with Corporate stakeholders, depending on the strategic objectives, assessing the value of a future partnership and paving the way for a collaboration.

Therefore, eminent is the need of a dedicated Corporate Innovation team that manages the set of startup engagement activities, evolving concurrently in its own nature. Leadership from a dedicated team provides two fundamental benefits over utilization of existing corporate functions:

• First, sourcing and incubating new innovation opportunities for a Corporate Innovation team is their full-time job, rather than just one more activity among the many for those in R&D or Technology.
• Second, an increasing number of innovation programs benefit from sweeping change and transformation mandates directly from the CEO and/or the BoD that require ownership and accountability inside organizations.

In such cases, Corporate Innovation teams must have both the resources and the mandate to fund and launch innovation objectives of their own.

Christos Lytras – Managing Partner

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